The George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of a major theoretical discovery in physics, the "ADM formalism," with a conference in honor of the three scientists who invented the theory in 1959.

"ADM-50: A Celebration of Current GR Innovation," held Nov. 7-8 on the Texas A&M campus, feted Dr. Richard Arnowitt, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physics, Texas A&M University; Dr. Stanley Deser, Ancell Professor of Physics, Brandeis University; and Dr. Charles Misner, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Maryland; and the key roles each played 50 years ago in developing formalism. All three were in attendance at the conference, whose participants included more than 60 eminent physicists and astronomers from all over the world.

Dr. Christopher N. Pope, distinguished professor of physics and Mitchell Institute director, described the ADM formalism as a breakthrough discovery that laid the foundations for investigating Einstein's theory of gravitation at the quantum level.

"It allows researchers to describe the four-dimensional spacetime dynamics of Einstein's General Relativity in terms of a time evolution of three-dimensional spatial geometries," Pope explained. "As well as providing insights into the quantum theory of gravity, Arnowitt, Deser and Misner were able to give a well-defined meaning to the concepts of mass and energy in general relativity."

Pope noted that the ADM formalism also provides the essential framework physicists need in order to use computers to solve complicated problems in Einstein's theory that are beyond the reach of analytical calculation.

"These problems include the study of black-hole formation and evolution, and the collisions and interactions between ultra-dense objects such as neutron stars," he said.

The conference was sponsored by the Mitchell Institute and supported by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the College of Science.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Christopher N. Pope, (979) 845-7793 or pope@physics.tamu.edu

Suntzeff Nick

  • Fathers of Formalism

    (Left to Right:) Texas A&M's Dr. Richard Arnowitt, Brandeis' Dr. Stanley Deser and Maryland's Dr. Charles Misner were honored as the developers of a major theoretical discovery in physics, the "ADM formalism," in celebration of its 50th anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff.)

  • Dr. Richard Arnowitt

    Dr. Richard Arnowitt, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Physics, Texas A&M University.(Photo courtesy of Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff.)

  • Dr. Christopher N. Pope

    Dr. Christopher N. Pope, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Mitchell Institute Director, Texas A&M University.

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